Medical students have been honing their skills on human simulations for years and Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has been using the world's first robotic dog simulator Robo-Jerry II and Robo-Fluffy, his feline counterpart, to give aspiring vets experience since 2010. The robo-pets now have a new home in the form of a new robotic simulation center the University claims is the first of its kind in the world, with work underway on a more advanced robotic dog called "Butch" that will boast more realistic features and which will run on cheap, standard components.

The new simulation center features fully equipped exam rooms, two rooms for video-feed observation as well as space for storage and the development of new robotic cat and dog models. The simulations run for 10 minutes and give students the opportunity to collect data from the robo-pets before deciding on the best course of treatment. A range of equipment is available to the students, including a full crash cart, medical supplies, defibrillator and other tools to take the robo-pet's pulse, listen to heart and lung sounds, insert catheters and hook up monitoring devices.

The center evolved from the use of a pioneering robotic dog simulator back in 2010 and was developed by assistant professor of emergency and critical care Daniel Fletcher. While first-year students perform more basic functions, such as listening to heart and lung sounds, second and third-year students use the center to perform scenarios involving actors filling the roles of technicians, clients and other clinicians.

“Our model can enhance CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) scenarios and can simulate a slew of other conditions, and we’ve seen interest in it growing. We’re gathering evidence and tools to help bring the simulation capability and teaching model outside Cornell,” said Fletcher.

Fletcher is also building a more advanced robotic dog called “Butch” that he says will boast a more realistic airway, a soft abdomen compartment, articulating joints, more areas for catheters, more space inside the body and a more realistic overall feel. Later this year, he also intends to release a simulation toolkit that includes an open-source software platform and affordable hardware to be shared with other institutions interested in simulation teaching.

“No other schools are using this kind of simulation yet,” said Fletcher. “Our model can enhance CPR scenarios and can simulate a slew of other conditions, and we’ve seen interest in it growing. We’re gathering evidence and tools to help bring the simulation capability and teaching model outside Cornell.”

Source: Cornell University